Posts filed under ‘Product Innovation’

From No-No to Yes-Yes

 

NanoTwist

I’m generally indifferent to cars and know them only as a system with four wheels, steering and seating that get me from point A to point B with minimum effort on my part; yet I’m eagerly awaiting the launch of the Tata Nano GenX. The journey of the Nano has such interesting twists and turns that it rivals a Bollywood potboiler, and as a student of marketing, I really want to see how Team Nano manages the tough task of making consumers warm up to the Nano Gen X. ( I’m hoping it succeeds and wishing the Nano Best of Luck, by the way). Meanwhile, in the run-up to the launch (until I have fodder for another post, that is), here’s the story of the Nano thus far :

Phase I: The people’s car The 1 lakh car

Launched in 2009, the Tata Nano was supposed to be ‘a people’s car’, the savior of the Indian middle class family which relied on a scooter or bike to transport all four members, offering them a safer and more comfortable alternative. To ensure affordability, the initial price was brought down to as low as Rs. 1 lakh per car through frugal innovation. Watch this ad to get a taste of what this brand was supposed to stand for and the role it was expected to play.

However, most of the hype around the car was focused on its cheap price and it became known as ‘The 1 lakh car’. For the middle class, both urban and rural, owning a car is a matter of pride and self-esteem. So, rather than gladly discovering that this fantastic upgrade from a two-wheeler actually had a reasonable price, Nano’s portrayed image put the product in the situation of being viewed as a compromise , not an upgrade.  “Ek prestige view se thodi down hai,” as one respondent expressed it during a transportation related research a few years ago, while another respondent termed it ‘the No-no’. Dangers of letting a low price be the defining feature of your offering!

Mr. Ratan Tata gives a crisp explanation in this article , “I always felt the Nano should have been marketed towards the owner of a two-wheeler because it was conceived to give people who rode on two-wheeler an all-weather, safe form of transportation, not (the) cheapest,” Tata said. “It became termed as the cheapest car by the public, and [also] I’m sorry to say, by the company when it was being marketed,” he added.

Another problem that the Nano faced was that of high expectations from those who did see it as an end to their transportation woes. During the same transportation related research mentioned earlier, we also found that the same Indian family that would uncomplainingly seat four people on a scooter or bike and balance their shopping bags too, somehow morphed into a demanding set that wanted adequate boot space in their car to keep luggage – just in case they had to drop a relative to the station.

The performance problems with the initial batch of cars did nothing to boost Nano’s image either. Soon after the cars hit the road came reports of some of them catching fire, which was seen as an indicator of low quality and a lack of reliability. While only a few such issues were reported, we’ve found that some people still mention these spontaneously when the Nano is mentioned.

Phase II:

Here’s where the change begins and the marketing team begins explicitly targeting a different TG –  young professionals in urban centers ; you can click on the links here  , here and here to view the ads and see for yourself  the distinct change in tone and style of ads from the earlier people’s car ads. By now, the no-frills car also had some add-ons such as the ‘best – in –class A.C.’ mentioned in the print ad shown below.

nano pic 3

 

Phase III :  Launch of Nano Twist – from ‘cheap car’ to ‘smart city car’

This is when an attempt was made to radically alter the Nano’s positioning in order to make it appeal to the new TG of urban professionals. The ‘you’re awesome’ campaign targeted  young urban folk and tried to showcase to them the new stylish Nano – new colours, better interiors, a car that could seat a couple of friends , a fun n’ smart car to hang out with. Did it work? I recall discussing this campaign and its effectiveness with a young colleague early last year and she felt that it was having some impact, two of her friends had noticed the ad and actually purchased the Nano Twist. Multiple news reports also mention that the customer profile for the Nano had indeed changed over the years, a heartening sign – the proportion of Nano buyers in the 24 -34 years age bracket had expanded to 40 percent, from the earlier 15 to 18 per cent.  Another interesting change happening in the Nano script is the growing base of women. Today, they account for 28 per cent of its customers, a substantial jump from 12 per cent in the earlier ‘people’s car’ phase.

That’s only part of the story though; take a look at the sales data for the rest – as per this article, in the April – December period of ’14-’15, Nano only sold 13,333 units, down 18.64% from the same period of ’13-’14.  

What could have limited the impact of such a high decibel campaign? NanoTwistWell, one reason could simply be that the impact of the initial launch advertising and PR campaign in ’08-’09 was so strong that the ‘cheap car’ story could only be over-written over the long haul , and it’s not a task that one ad alone could shoulder. Another could be that while the ‘You’re Awesome’ campaign did have a smarter , more stylish feel to it, there was no over-arching product story communicated about how the Twist was better than the earlier version of the Nano, neither about how it was better suited to city travel than other cars. While some shots in the ad did imply easy maneuverability, it was not explicit enough, and got overshadowed by the messaging on style and aesthetics ; the ‘smart city car’ benefits were explicitly mentioned only in print ads. When a repositioning as drastic as this one is being attempted, consumers probably need to hear that the car has improved significantly too.    

Phase IV: Launch of the Nano Gen Xnano pic 2

And thus to the eagerly awaited launch of the Tata Nano Gen X later this month! Now clearly aiming for the ‘smart city car’ tag, the Gen X has a host of improved features, see details here here and here

But has the 2013 campaign succeeded in erasing memories of the 1 lakh car launched in 2009? Will the Nano get to make a fresh start? Only time will tell…  

 

  • Zenobia Driver
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May 14, 2015 at 10:57 am 8 comments

Colour bombs nail pops – they rock !

This is a post that I’ve been thinking of writing for some time – ever since I made one of my infrequent visits to a small cosmetics store last year and noticed a brand that stood out on the shelf, or in the basket as in this case.

If you’re in India, visit a small ‘gift shop’ or cosmetics shop or bindi-bangle store in your neighbourhood market and take a look at how nail-polish bottles are stocked. Only expensive nail-polishes from premium brands are kept on shelves, the rest that are priced at Rs. 15 – Rs. 50 per bottle are just dumped higgledy-piggledy into a box or a basket – all colours and all brands together, this box is either kept on the counter or under the counter and brought out when a customer asks to see products.

colourboms pic - grouped pic.jpg

As it is, for the vast majority of consumers, nail polish purchase is driven by colour and price, not as much by brand. To add to it, you have staff at the retail counter who often tell consumers things such as this statement, “aapko color jo pasand aata ai woh nikalo, brand se kya lena dena, sabhi same hai, utne hi chalte hai” (“select whichever colour you like, how does the brand matter, they’re all as popular”). Then how does a brand ensure that consumers are loyal to it and pick it up out of the box each time, from among a huge assortment of polishes such as  VOV, Etude, Bo, 8C Lacque, Incolor, Tips and Toes, Caty Girl ( I kid you not !), Bonjour, Priya, Ambar, Blue Heaven, BCC, Miss Claire, Honey Sweet (like the Bond heroine ?), Teen Teen etc. ?

Well, at least one brand focused on understanding their TG, creating packaging that would appeal to them and get their attention, and then communicating the same. Elle 18, HULs colour cosmetics brand for young women was re-launched in Nov 2010 with the ‘Colour Bombs’ range. The brand was positioned as a young, modern, trendy yet affordable brand for its TG comprising 13-18 year olds who are willing to experiment with explosive colors, as the name ‘Color Bombs’ suggests.

colourboms pic 4.jpg

These products were made to appeal to a young woman / teenager every which way, beginning with the name itself – which young lady does not (at least occasionally) aspire to look like a ‘bomb’ ? The range has the bright vibrant colours that are all the rage with young women today, the packs have a shape that’s different from the packs of other brands, with funky illustrations of women on them that utilize the little blank space available on the small pack most efficiently. The imagery and colors used in the new packaging and communication are young and edgy and completely different from the earlier plain-Jane look of Elle 18. I just loved the way the image on the nail-polish bottle – which no competitor has – made this pack stand out and grab attention amongst the clutter of products in the nail-polish box on the retail counter.

colourboms pic 3

colourboms pic 5

Note : While this post has focused on nail polish, the Colour Bombs range has nail paints, lipsticks, lip glosses, black eye-liner and kohl too, all priced between Rs. 45 and Rs. 100.

colour bombs grouped pic 2

p.s Here’s a link to the ad in case you’re interested. Frankly, I didn’t like this ad much and thought it didn’t live up to the excitement and joie-de-vivre of the brand name and the packaging ; but what do I know, I’m not the TG, I’m an Auntyji.

  • Zenobia Driver

July 30, 2013 at 6:16 am 4 comments

Updates

On Lifebuoy colour changing handwash :

Over a year ago, we’d written about the Lifebuoy team’s efforts to change the hand-wash habits (or lack of the same) of Indians in this post.  The post called attention to one aspect of Lifebuoy’s Swasthya Chetana campaign, the ‘glowgerm’ demonstration that children were invited to take part in. This involved applying a white powder to the palms of their hands, then washing with water only. Hands were then held under an ultra-violet light and the powder glowed where dirt remained, showing that hand-washing without soap was not enough. The children then repeated the process, this time using soap, only to discover the UV light showed no trace of the powder. This countered the common misconception that ‘visibly clean’ is ‘hygienically clean’, and, in an easy-to-understand manner, drove home the message that even clean-looking hands are dirty until washed with soap.

lifebuoy colour changing handwash 2

Now they’ve used colour changes to make another point with their latest product, Lifebuoy colour changing handwash. This time, the foam turns green after ten seconds to signal that all the germs have been wiped out. Am sure that the change in the colour as they scrub will grab every kid’s attention and ensure that they don’t wash the soap off immediately but scrub for a full ten seconds, at least while the product and the effect are still a novelty. As a communication tool, felt that the hulk mascot worked well too. You can view the ad for the product here.  

 

On the frozen yogurt market :

frozen yogurt brands

One of the trends we commented upon last year was the increasing popularity of hip frozen yogurt stores which could be termed cafés in terms of their popularity as hang-out places for youngsters.

The rapid expansion of this market has seen more competitors entering, read about the entry of foreign brands including the U.S based ‘Red Mango’, Canadian ‘Kiwi Kiss’ and others here, here, here and here.

 

  • Zenobia Driver

 

December 28, 2012 at 9:54 am Leave a comment

The Great Indian Khana Khazana

Food. One of India’s greatest passions. ‘Aaj Khane me kya bana hai?[what’s on for food today?]is the most important question asked in every household, almost every day. No surprise then ,that it is also the sunshine industry of India. Estimated at over US 100 Bn dollars, it is almost 2/3rds of the total Indian retail market. The food and grocery segment is growing at an incredibly fast pace too.

The history of Indian food is as diverse as this country itself. Apart from the geographical and cultural specialities,like idli-sambhar in the south, macher jhol in the east, makki ki roti sarson ka saag in the north and sol kadhi, masale bhaat in the west, there is also the influence of the Portugese[pork vindaloo], the Moghuls [dum pukhtetc.] and not to forget our very own invention of Indian Chinese cuisine[gobi manchurian!].

Much later, in independent India, multinational brands such as Nestle,Unilever etc have been forced to recognize and acknowledge the Indian palate in order to get wider acceptance for their offerings. Right from the ‘Meri masala Maggi dumdaar noodles’ to the ‘Masala Penne Pasta'[made from suji], their Nestle’s ‘Taste bhi Health Bhi’ offerings have had to bend to the Indian tastes.Their health platform has taken into account the Indian’s healthy respect for atta and sooji vs maida.

Giants like Pepsico have recently introduced Homestyle Masala and Lemony Veggie flavoured Quaker oats alongside recipes for oats upma and poha in order to cater to the Indian penchant for mom style breakfast. Unilever has introduced Knorr ready to cook Hyderabadi Biryani, Chana masala etc.  to bolster the Knorr brand’s traditional offering of soups. Nestle’s Maggi has enhanced its soup range with Maggi Souper roni[which has suji,vegetables and macaroni]to cater to the old Indian habit of a bit of this and a bit of that. Its traditional  sauce range now also includes the Maggi imli sauce[a home style tamarind sauce] available in a Pichkoo[local lingo for a squeeze pack].

Our very own home grown Indian companies realised the scope for growth in this arena long ago. ITC has taken its legendary Dal Bhukara and Biryani to the customer in the ready to eat market through its Kitchens of India brand. Its Ashirvaad branded rava idli mix etc are following the lead of MTR’s[Mavalli Tiffin Room] multifaceted offerings in the ready to cook range. In fact MTR’s traditional fare which included tomato rasam powder and Puliyogare [tamarind rice] mix, has seen a healthy facelift with the additions of Ragi Rava idli/Ragi dosa/Oats idli/ Multigrain dosa offerings. Britannia has entered the healthy eating market with its breakfast range of poha and upma available in broken wheat[dhalia] and tomato spinach.

These examples are just a snapshot of the big picture. No downturn for this industry then; the Indian continues to feast in both good and bad times. And, the great Indian taste buds are ready for the’ branded home style offerings’. If it has to be international cuisine, it better be an Indianised version[remember how the good ol’ Big Mac had to do a chikken Mc tikka to woo the Indian consumer]. And so, while India is waking up to the global phenomenon of Eating Healthy – it better be’ Taste bhi, Health bhi’,  and in that order, necessarily.

By,

Sita Lakshmi

November 21, 2012 at 6:59 am Leave a comment

Moving with the times – Tag Heuer

I often wonder about the longevity of watches as a category and whether they will eventually suffer the same fate as the humble typewriter, either in a few years or a few decades. Two close friends of mine have already stopped wearing a watch on a regular basis – their logic is that they carry a phone all the time and can see the time on their phone. What’s worse – for the global watch industry, that is – they find the watch doubly redundant when at their desk in office where they can also see the time on their laptop.

Undoubtedly, the trend towards wearing a watch as an accessory will extend the category’s life-span, but for how long ? And does the watch industry have any other tricks up its sleeve or will it fall prey to marketing myopia in a decade or two ?

[Note : We’d mentioned marketing myopia once in an earlier post; the subject of this post is somewhat similar – an attempt made by a firm to adapt to a changing market, though in this case it’s early days yet and the market verdict is not  clear.

Marketing Myopia : The term refers to the short-sightedness that leads companies to focus on their own organisation and product – line rather than on customers’ needs and wants. It leads to reluctance to change, and a failure to adjust to a changing market environment.] 

 

In this context, I felt that the launch of the Tag Heuer Smartphones by the luxury watch brand was an interesting experiment (you can read articles about the launch here, here , here and here). Tag Heuer started retailing luxury mobile phones in India from 2008. It has since launched three such devices – first the Tag Heuer Meridiist and Link, and recently the Racer. The Tag Heuer Racer Smartphone (pics on extreme right in the image above) was the one launched a few months ago; in keeping with the Tag image, the phone looks top-end  – really sleek, it’s supposedly styled after race cars. Buyers can customize their phones’ cases in a variety of materials, from rose gold to titanium,  just as they would a TAG watch. They can even add Calfskin-leather trim, or a sprinkling of diamonds, for good measure.

One fly in the ointment could be the fact that while consumers buy a watch for a lifetime – or at least to last for many years, they tend to change their phones to the latest model fairly often; at the price tag of a Tag Smartphone, that’s a bit heavy on the pocket. Will be interesting to see how this pans out. Meanwhile, kudos to Tag for not burying their heads in the sand, trying to adapt to changing consumer habits and being bold enough to experiment. A good effort, for sure.

  • Zenobia Driver

October 31, 2012 at 9:00 am 5 comments

Mineral water, spring water, sparkling water and now…ENHANCED WATER

The bottled water business can be broadly divided into natural mineral water, pure spring water, purified water, sparkling water and enhanced water. The bottled water market in the western world is at a mature stage and the category is constantly innovating and evolving.

Globally, one of the newest and fastest-growing types of specialty water on the market is enhanced water, which is spring water that’s fortified with “healthy” ingredients such as oxygen, nutrients, herbs, vitamins, minerals, electrolytes and, in some cases, stimulants like ginseng and caffeine.

The creator and leader of this segment is Glacéau, a US based beverage-maker – it first introduced an electrolyte enhanced line of water called Smartwater in 1996, followed by Fruitwater in 1998 and Vitaminwater in 2000 in the US. The Glacéau line of waters was initially only introduced in the New York City area and only in 2002 did it gain popularity and started distribution across the United States. Over time, Fruitwater was phased out from the market and Vitaminwater is now their most popular product with multiple variants of flavors and nutrients.

It was the first to catch on to the health wave and introduced several variants each with its own benefits – and put this forth in the most eye-catching manner. It created different combinations for benefits such as Endurance, Energy, Focus, Revive, Power-C (vit C), Triple-X (triple antioxidants), Defense, etc. in vibrant colors, attractive packaging and fun and funny labeling.

In 2007, Coca-Cola bought over the company. Glacéau gave Coca-Cola an instant foothold in this fast-growing niche, while the brand benefited from Coca-Cola’s considerable distribution and marketing muscle.

I noticed it on my trip to the US this summer – there were Vitaminwater vending machines everywhere, everywhere one would traditionally find vending machines for snacks, confectionary and soda. Last when I was there in 2006, they were only available in specialty grocery stores, health stores and college campuses. Earlier it was promoted through vehicle marketing program, sampling program, banners & posters, and ‘Campus Ambassadors,’ a college outreach program but the new marketing campaigns include celebrities, hip-hop singers, NBA stars, popular graffiti artists, etc.

Given the increased weight & calorie-consciousness in the US, Vitaminwater also came out with Vitaminwater 10 variant – targeting the weight conscious with their 10 calorie offering (down from the original 50 calories) which was then replaced with Vitaminwater Zero in 2010.  Vitaminwater Zero sales in its first year of sales reached US $110.3 million.

In comparison to mature western markets, is the Indian market ready for enhanced water yet? The per capita bottled water consumption is still quite low – estimates vary from 0.5 liters to 5 liters a year as compared to the global average of 24 liters. However, the total annual bottled water consumption has risen rapidly in recent times – tripling between 1999 and 2004 – from about 1.5 billion liters to five billion liters. And currently the industry is growing at the rate of 45%. Although premium water constitutes only 10% of the bottled water market, gearing up for the uptrend in the market, Bisleri plans to introduce its range of flavored waters shortly. PepsiCo is also considering the possibility of introducing flavored water in the Indian market given the consumer’s increasing discomfort with carbonated drinks.

We shall wait and watch…

By,

Roshni Jhaveri

November 7, 2011 at 5:43 am 15 comments

One Chai Frappuccino, with whipped cream please …

On my trip to the US this summer, I noticed another new trend – the craze for Chai! This isn’t chai as we Indians know it, this is Chai – an evolution of tea in a coffee culture society. They have all the variants of coffee – latte, macchiato, frappuccino – but for tea.

So, you are standing in line to get your morning fix at a typical “coffee” shop (and I’m not just talking about Starbucks, I’m talking about all the smaller chains, local coffee shops, neighborhood bakeries) and you hear orders of Chai flying all about you. And in different varieties – “A small Chai latte mocha please”, “A large chai frappuccino, very little whipped cream”, “Chai macchiato in soy milk, no sugar”. And my first reaction was a gag reflex. I’m no tea connoisseur but tea with whipped cream! In soy milk! As a Frappuccino! With Mocha flavor! – I couldn’t digest.

BUT! Curiosity got the better of me and I ventured to try it one morning to see what the craze was about, whether this chai frappuccino was worth the hullaballoo it had created. My first sip, and I thought “what is this?”, second sip “this is interesting…”, third sip “Ya, I can taste the tea in it…” and by my fourth sip “I can get used to this…” and then on I was hooked!

I visited my aunt there and noticed she had switched from using tea leaves to using some Chai Latte pre-mix. And this is an aunt who is really fond of tea, I remember her fussing over taking back a particular brand of tea from India the last time she visited us.

I went grocery shopping there and what did I find? I found a whole range of ready-mixes for Chai Latte in multiple flavors (Vanilla, Spiced, Cardamom) by multiple brands.

So, all you tea aficionados out there – are you ready to try this?

By,

Roshni Jhaveri

July 25, 2011 at 4:31 am 9 comments

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